CHEYENNE – Today’s Class 3A state championship game will feature familiar foes.

The Cody Broncs and Jackson Hole Broncs will meet today at 3 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie in a rematch of last year’s title game, where Cody pulled away with the 34-13 victory. Prior to that, both teams had fallen in the semifinals the previous two years.

“In 2018, 2019 we make the semifinals and we didn’t play, and we make the finals with a few kids really knocked up. We returned basically the entire team, and getting back here is not easy,” Jackson coach David Joyce said. “It’s been hard having to navigate some of the players we had to restrict because of injuries ... it’s pretty impressive for other guys to step up and handle the load.”

This will be the second matchup of the season between the two programs. In the first, Cody outlasted Jackson in week 8 with a 21-15 victory when a late Jackson turnover helped Cody prevail with a late touchdown. That was the lowest-scoring contest for Jackson’s high-powered offense this season. Led by senior quarterback Sadler Smith, the Jackson offense paces Class 3A with 466 yards per game. Sadler leads the state with 273.3 passing yards per game, and Nate Keipert is first in receiving with 95.4 yards per contest.

To balance it out, Jackson running back Brody Hasenack leads the state in rushing touchdowns with 21.

“We have a hurry-up tempo. We have a lot of weapons at every skill position. We can throw it to anybody, and we can run it with different people,” Joyce said. “We’re pretty diverse.”

Cody coach Matt McFadden harped on the play of Smith and the importance of making the 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket.

“We’ve had a pretty stout (defense) all season, and I feel that’s going to be key is rushing the passer and getting Sadler off his mark,” McFadden said. “But there are a lot of athletes on both sides of the ball, and it comes down to making plays.”

Cody’s offense has no problems moving the ball, either. Cody averages 38.2 points per game, which ranks first in the classification while trailing only Jackson in total yardage at 411.4 yards per outing. A lot of that offensive production comes from Cody’s rushing attack, which racks up 277.6 yards per contest and leads the state behind three top-10 rushers: Chaz Cowie, Jackson Schroeder and Drew Trotter.

The Jackson defense only allows 104 rushing yards per contest, but the depth that Cody boasts in the backfield proves beneficial.

“It comes down to the course of a game and playing the hot-hand,” McFadden said. “We can spread the ball around and it’s hard on the other side to stop those components.”

The week 8 matchup was also the closest contest that Cody (10-0) has seen this season. It is coming off a 24-17 victory over Star Valley in last week’s semifinals. Jackson (9-2) defeated Douglas 28-20 on the road to clinch its trip to Laramie. Besides falling to Cody, Jackson’s only other loss came in a 46-20 defeat on the road against Pocatello, Idaho.

While Cody is seeking its seventh title in school history, Jackson is on the hunt for its fourth, and its first since 2007. Joyce knows it won’t come easy.

“They have a lot of individual talent. (They have) great team speed, size and length, and a middle enforcer at safety in Luke Talich,” Joyce said. “They’re well coached, they don’t make a lot of mistakes – put it all together, and you get a recipe for success, and they’ve had a ton of success. You have to physically execute against them, and you have to earn every inch.”

Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at rmunoz@wyosports.net. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.

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